Rwanda rejects U.N. experts’ charge that it aided Burundi rebels

Rwanda dismissed charges leveled in a U.N. experts’ report that it had supported rebels in neighboring Burundi, accusing the authors on Friday of trying to stir up trouble in the region.

The confidential report, seen by Reuters and due to be presented to the U.N. Security Council later on Friday, said Rwanda provided training, financing and logistical support through early 2016 for insurgents seeking to oust Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza.

“Those people who write such stories could also be mobilized to be useful in addressing stories of country’s problems instead of exacerbating them or creating problems that shouldn’t be there,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame told a news conference in Kigali.

Kagame said Burundi should “look at whatever problems they are having as their own rather than making it sound like it’s a problem originates from elsewhere.”

A year of political violence in Burundi has triggered fears of a full-blown conflict in the fragile central African region.

Burundi only emerged from an ethnically-charged civil war in 2005 and memories are still fresh of the genocide across the border in Rwanda nine years earlier. Burundi has an ethnic Hutu majority and Tutsi minority, the same split as in Rwanda.

SECURITY COUNCIL

The panel of six independent experts, appointed by the United Nations to monitor Security Council sanctions on the Democratic Republic of Congo, had confidentially reported in February that 18 Burundian combatants in eastern Congo said they had been recruited in a refugee camp in Rwanda in mid-2015 and trained by instructors, who included Rwandan military personnel.

Rwanda has repeatedly denied the claims.

In the experts’ latest report, seen by Reuters on Thursday and due to be discussed by the Security Council sanctions committee on Friday, they said “similar outside support continued through early 2016”.

“This took the form of training, financing and logistical support for Burundian combatants crossing from Rwanda to DRC,” the group of experts wrote in the report.

The findings contradict suggestions from Western officials in recent months who said any Rwandan support for Burundian rebels appeared to have ceased last year. The United States said it had raised concerns with Rwanda over reports it was meddling in Burundi.

The U.N. experts said they had presented their findings to the Rwandan government “which denied any involvement”. Rwanda’s U.N. mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Security Council members want to deploy U.N. police to Burundi to help quell the violence and monitor the border between Burundi and Rwanda.

Political violence erupted in Burundi after Nkurunziza pursued and won a third term as president. His opponents accused him of breaking the constitution by running again, though he pointed to a court ruling allowing his campaign.

 

– REUTERS

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